Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another Conversation with Emily Shur

© Emily Shur

Emily Shur, much like Tema Stauffer has been involved or connected to every Nymphoto project. Emily early on participated in our conversation series. It is nice to come full circle. And thus today we present another conversation with Emily Shur - catching up on what has happend since our last conversation and discussing her assignment and her personal work.

© Emily Shur

NP: Can you fill us in a little to what has been going with you since our last interview?

ES: Well, I just looked up the date of our original conversation which was July 8, 2008, so it’s been quite a while. Lots of things have changed, but also lots of things are the same. 2008 and 2009 were very difficult years for me, professionally and financially. I was not making any money, which I’m sort of used to, but it reached a critical point towards the end of 2009, and I was forced to take a hard look at what was going on in my career. The industry was (and still is) shifting away from all of the things I had become comfortable with. I made a living shooting for magazines for almost 10 years, and continuing that has become impossible at this stage in the game. It’s unfortunate because I still love shooting for magazines, reading magazines, browsing at newsstands, etc., but it was time to accept what was happening and make the necessary adjustments. Towards the end of last year, I made a few major professional changes. I changed agents and did a full re-design of my website.

© Emily Shur

Another good thing that came out of this professional slump was that it re-connected me with my personal work. Because of nothing but sheer frustration with what was happening in my work life, I forced myself to shoot things and subject matter that I enjoyed and brought me pleasure. I was worried that my unhappiness with my career was going to spill over into my overall feelings about photography. I always want photography to be enjoyable, fulfilling, and some sort of refuge for me. I was beginning to feel mostly negative feelings about it and needed to stop that before it got any worse. I had lots of free time, so I began to put most of my energy towards shooting and editing my personal work. I applied to reviews and submitted my work to lots of contests and websites. It has been a very enlightening and positive experience, and it’s brought my attitude towards picture taking back around from the dark side.

© Emily Shur

NP: We like the re-design of your site. Particularly that we get to see more of what you call your personal work? Has your focus been shifting? And does your personal work inform your assignment work or vice versa?

ES: Thanks! It was important to me to incorporate more of my personal work into my site re-design. Right now, I’m not yet at the point where my personal work and assignment work are intertwined or derivative of each other. Part of the thought behind incorporating so much of my personal work into the new site was that hopefully I would be looked at in a different light as a photographer. I want art directors and photo editors to know that I can do more than take portraits of famous people. I want them to better understand my overall point of view, and I think that showing my personal work definitely adds an element to my body of work. I would love to get assignment work based off of my personal work, or be asked to use my personal work as inspiration in my assignment work. Showing all of my work together on one site is still kind of new, so I realize it might take a while for people to see me as someone who does quiet landscapes as well as celebrity portraits.

© Emily Shur

NP: In our last conversation you said you weren’t sure what drives your personal work. Do you still feel that way?

ES: I still am not a very project oriented photographer which I half want to change and half don’t care to change. Like I said in my answer to the first question, a lot of my personal work is pretty selfish in nature. Simply stated, it’s how I most enjoy photography. It’s how I remind myself why I love photography, and it’s where I feel most free as a photographer. The only pressure involved is pressure I put on myself. The only person I need to please is myself. So, I guess it really is driven by the hedonist in me.

© Emily Shur

NP: Your blog is popular! And it also has a new look and a new address. Can you tell us how the blog fits into your world?

ES: It is? It does have a new look and new address ( I got nerdy over Christmas break last year and taught myself how to design in Wordpress. The blog is a bit all over the place – one part photography, one part self promotion, one part love letter to The Baroness (our dog), and one part utterly and completely random. The blog is, I think, important to one’s photographic career right now although not everyone needs or wants one. It’s sort of public, so I can understand that not everyone wants to share their inner most thoughts on the internet. My blog is a place where I can get outside opinions on new work, promote upcoming events, and give people a bit more insight into what kind of stuff inspires or interests me. I’ve ‘met’ lots of other photographers and creative people all over the world because of my blog which is pretty cool. Sometimes the blog is stressful for me...I can’t think of things to write about, I censor my real thoughts because I realize that people in a position to hire me might be reading, and I feel a sense of obligation to keep it interesting and updated. So all in all, it’s not this complete zone of freedom and awesomeness, but I do enjoy it, and it makes me happy to think that people all over the world know how cute The Baroness is.

© Emily Shur

NP: What’s next?

ES: I’m planning yet another trip to Japan with my husband so that I can continue taking pictures there. I’m preparing my work for this year’s Review Santa Fe which is in June. I also recently had a piece in a group show at THIS Gallery (in conjunction with MOPLA) on April 30th. I’m hoping this year will bring some good assignment and commercial work, and that I can continue making a living doing what I love.

NP: Thank you so much!


D. Saunders said...

Thanks you for sharing honest concerns & considerations in this conversation. The internet world is so very public and, as a result, I sense that many people who blog or contribute to online writings create a sort of persona through which to be perceived.

Articulating creative sensibilities (an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) can be a torturous struggle, yet many don't give voice to their insecurities while in this process, I suspect because it feels like it is admitting a failure of some kind.

Anyway, thanks.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I never even knew of your commercial work at all, I just remember finding your stuff on tiny vices a while back, and now i remember how much i like it....thanks :)